Wednesday 31 July 2013

Guest Blog - Councillor Robert Rams - The clown in the Court of King Boris? - by John Sullivan

By John Sullivan,

I found the Barnet Eye blog about Cllr Robert Rams very interesting, and the link to his blog showed he was making a considered and thoughtful contribution based on his own experiences towards Theresa May, and I agree wholeheartedly with his claim at tip number three " don't ever go private the best diabetes care is on the NHS- and my doctor is proof of that "

He was offering support and sound advice to Theresa May ( for what I am sure are honourable and genuine reasons, he had no need to ask questions on the subject because he has a number of years of experience  dealing with this illness on a daily basis. My family is riddled with this illness it took the sight of my father who finished up completely blind, so Mr Rams and Theresa May have my sympathy, in fact my eldest son has just been diagnosed borderline diabetic, so the contribution of Mr Rams is useful to many people and most welcome. However whilst I hate to spoil a good story   there was a slight whiff of brown nosing as Ms May is such an important figure in the Conservative party and the current coalition government, I am sure he will be expecting a few brownie points in return for proffering his experiences in a good cause.

However it is a crying shame Mr Rams does not afford Disabled Barnet residents and their family carers the same right to provide a considered and balanced opinion, based like his on years of experience. Sadly instead he supports the race to the bottom in disability support services at Your Choice Barnet, the demolition of staff morale and the replacement of skilled staff that provide long term stability for service users, with unskilled agency staff that will not provide that vital long term stability and comradeship, along with the refusal to meaningfully and openly consult with parents carers and service users.  As he says he supports the YCB proposals , then he supports all of these things because they are what is proposed.
Several parents and family carers of disabled people under threat from YCB changes that have been concerned with the direction of YCB from its conception just over a year ago, have been refused consultation on the proposed changes to services and basically lied to. They have been dishonestly told by YCB the changes to the services will have no impact on the service users or they will result in no change, whilst highlighting in their own YCB report to the board, the negative impacts they are contemplating, in other words they have been hiding the truth from us.

We decided as a group under the umbrella of CADDSS, to instruct Professor Dexter Whitfield a specialist in this field to look into the real performance of YCB in its first year and not the fantasy claims of Cllr Rajput Kate Kennally and Tracey Lees, and his opinions on the proposed changes to the services . The three highly paid  individuals mentioned above have access to all the experts they need funded by Barnet taxpayers, so they can in effect blind the parents family carers and service users with science. They also have the ear of " The Most Influential Tory in Barnet " none other than our beloved helpful caring Cllr Robert Rams, who has rushed to the aid and support of Theresa May like a knight in shining armour. Let's not forget Cllr Rams is not only  the elected Conservative councillor for East Barnet, he is also a member of the cabinet of Barnet council, one of the selected few councillors that make all the decisions, rather than doing what they are told and rubber stamping anything the cabinet comes up with, as is the case with the remainder of the Conservative Councillors. But he also has a very important taxpayer funded job working for the GLA, that gives him access to the likes of Boris Johnson.

He was until recently an ardent supporter of everything Brian Coleman and can be seen on film nodding his head and laughing as Brian Coleman  launched a sexist attacks on concerned female Barnet residents , calling them  hags among other things. He also if my memory serves me correctly sat in silence when Coleman launched an unwarranted abusive attack on disabled people with regard to the provision of transport for them, " why should we provide transport for "THESE PEOPLE " cried bully boy Coleman, and Cllr Rams sat in silence and allowed him to continue with his abuse of the disabled. This man Coleman that was spending thousands of pounds on taxis and mini cabs to convey him from  A to B, and not a word from Cllr Rams . Whether the argument of Coleman had substance or not there was no need for the abuse, and no attempt to temper the language of Coleman was made by Cllr Rams or anyone else. Sensibly after years of supporting Brian Coleman who is now a convicted criminal after attacking a female Barnet resident in the street, Cllr Rams appears to have cut himself adrift from his old mate, mucker and mentor Brian, and if he has not it is time he did.

You would think that a man of Councillor Rams talents, who immerses himself in the detail of politics, living and breathing it on a daily basis, would be something of an expert on the policies of Barnet Council. You would think with  his back office job at the GLA, where he organises policy  briefs etc for all other Conservative GLA members, he would be informed enough and courteous enough to explain and defend a Barnet council policy to a Barnet council resident, concerned with the proposals for YCB and the future quality of care and well being of his disabled daughter and for disabled people in general in Barnet, sadly that is not the case.

The  Professor Dexter Whitfield Review on behalf of CADDSS  that I mention above , was a serious attempt to provide a platform for a constructive debate on the proposed changes at YCB, that are in effect a race to the bottom in quality of care and quality of life of all YCB service users , to help pay off the debts they have accumulated in their first year of trading. They are nothing to do with improving quality of care or quality of life , they are simply a tool to be more competitive in the market place as they refer to it, and to pay down the huge debts they have accumulated.

When we released the Professor Whitfield review our intelligent councillor Rams tweeted the following 
, which to be honest I thought was a childish and immature response to what was a serious attempt by parents carers and service users to get to the truth, and as a consequence I wrote to Cllr Rams and told him in very blunt terms what I thought of his childish outburst and discourteous comments regarding Professor Whitfield. Just to make the point if you don't know how Professor Whitfield came on the scene in the first place. The former Conservative leader of the council, now MP Mike Freer wanted the unions to give a considered and intelligent response to the outsourcing proposals, and as a consequence he gave them funding to bring the professor on board. Mike Freer told the Barnet Unison branch secretary that it was of critical importance for the unions to properly understand the process. So his old boss saw the contribution of Professor Whitfield as being a constructive way forward, and Cllr Rams sees it as an opportunity to try to besmirch the good name of the professor, and all the parents family carers service users and Barnet residents that engaged him.

I had a number of exchanges with Cllr Rams on this subject that he has warned me off making public, I suppose you could say  I have been indirectly threatened not to make them public. But what I can do is tell you what he did not do, this man this most important Tory in Barnet with access to policy information at Barnet council at his finger tips, he did not in any way attempt to justify his unnecessary and childish comments about Professor Whitfield after two request. He did not outline why he felt that the proposed race to the bottom in service provision was in his opinion a good thing as I requested twice, and he did not again as I requested twice outline what is positive in the proposals for YCB that will improve the quality of care of service users. He also from my own interpretation of his remarks , appears to think that he is better qualified to comment on this subjects than parents with  nearly 50 years coal face experience 24/7 x 365 days per years, or a family with 40 years at the coal face 365 days per year x 40 years, or other concerned family carers and parents that collectively have hundreds of years of experience in this field. At the very least he was not prepared in any way shape of form to enter into a debate on the subject, except to say we would have to agree to disagree because it is only politics anyway. Which implies he thinks that the future long term well being and quality of life of severely disabled people in Barnet is somehow or other a political game, a sport of some kind.

Even though he claims to have read the Caddss report that is highly critical of what is being proposed and actually happening as I write at YCB where staff morale is at rock bottom, and the whole concept of YCB its failed business plan and its risky future a disaster waiting to happen.  Councillor Rams has nothing to contribute, he simply implies that he knows best and we parents family carers and service users are wrong and he is right. Just to put a bit of spin on it "end of discussion enough said, now get back into your box where Barnet residents should be  seen and not heard ".
I genuinely thought that Councillors were elected to engage with the concerns of the residents  , seek a way forward that is acceptable to all parties then go on to represent the concerns fears and worries of residents, so I obviously got that wrong.  What the cabinet at Barnet council decides has absolutely nothing to do with the residents, and only the opinion of officers and consultants  with a vested interest, and Councillors according to Brian Coleman recently, being whipped at every turn to support cabinet decisions are considered valid contributions.

I hope at some stage to be able to make public my exchanges with councillor Rams  which I genuinely believe will expose how completely out of touch he is with the realities of families and parents caring and catering for adults with severe disabilities. I believe they expose he is not competent to make decisions regarding the future well being of these folk, but that will have to wait for another day.
Like Councillor Rams I do not believe in the privatisation of diabetes services and many of us parents and family carers along with Barnet residents do not believe that adult services should be outsourced  which is privatisation by another name,  we also support his claim do not go private the NHS is best. We believe that in-house services are best for our children and our wards and not the privatisation failures of YCB to date, with a plan for full privatisation at some later date. We are prepared to support councillor Rams in his anti privatisation stance, so why does he refuse to even discuss our concerns over privatisation of adult services, that are a potential Winterbourne View waiting to happen.

You know the most fundamentally important thing for a parent of a severely disabled adult child is what will happen when I die, what provision will be in place, who will be there to care for my loved one or loved ones. Those views fears and concerns are treated with such abject contempt by Cllr Rams he is not even prepared to discuss them, because he thinks he knows best. It is apparently in his opinion nothing to do with us parents and family carers, which I truly believe appears to expose a level of self opinionated uninformed arrogance that beggars belief.

1 comment:

Janet - CADDSS said...

Even Councillors, such as Cllr Rams, who approved the creation of Your Choice Barnet should be concerned about its current position. If you read any publications for the board of Your Choice Barnet, prepared by employees of Your Choice Barnet, which are publicly available, they express concern about being able to pay the present cost of staff salaries. They admit that Your Choice Barnet has not been able to attract new customers from out side the borough and cannot provide a profitable service.

I think Councillors who think all is well should make it their business to visit the day centres, respite and residential services run by Your Choice Barnet and genuinely listen to concerns of service users and their families.

Disparaging remarks, like those made by Cllr Rams, will not help to turn Your Choice Barnet into a viable business or protect the quality of services provided by Your Choice Barnet.

If Cllr Rams is genuinely concerned about the situation he should meet with the people affected.